Every Phillies’ fan knows how much the bullpen has struggled the last two years. It has been no secret that one of Dave Dombrowski’s key objectives this offseason was to improve it. Spending a total of $22M, the team brought veterans Corey Knebel, Jeurys Familia, and Brad Hand were brought in as reinforcements.
However, with all the money they spent, a guy returning from injury could be the most important addition this offseason. If Seranthony Dominguez‘ first appearance was any indication of the regular season, that will be the case.
In one inning of work today, Seranthony threw 14 pitches and struck out the side. His fastball was comfortably sitting at 96 mph, reaching as high as 97. To say his slider was filthy would be an understatement. As seen above, the pitch had some serious bite coming out of his hand. Tigers OF Daz Cameron had absolutely no chance.
Now, the first appearance in Spring Training is hardly something to get excited over. However, it is an encouraging start for someone returning from Tommy John. In one inning, Seranthony showed us a glimpse of what got us so excited in 2018.
Dominguez is, undoubtedly, the biggest key to the Phillies bullpen in 2022. With all of the aforementioned additions, none have the upside that he does. Dominguez has faced only three MLB batters since 2019. As a result, he is a complete wildcard.
A wildcard that could produce huge dividends.
In a really good story for The Athletic, Matt Gelb talks about lifestyle changes Dominguez made this offseason. He completely changed how he ate. He cut out sugar and carbs out of his diet, cutting his weight to around 200 lbs. Not only does he physically look good, but mentally, he’s in a good place as well.
“I just wanted to be ready to compete,” Domiguez said. Without doubt, he did more than compete today.
Consequently, he put himself square in the backend of the bullpen picture. A picture that is still up in the air outside of Corey Knebel. Named the closer by Joe Girardi, Knebel is the only pitcher in the bullpen with a claimed role. However, a confident Dominguez like we saw on Tuesday would change things.
Frankly, I would consider moving Dominguez to the ninth with a successful start. Girardi would never do it because of his proclivity for veteran players. At the same time, what is the difference between one inning and 39 innings? It’s not like Knebel has a clean bill of health in his past.
Knebel is good, but a healthy Seranthony is better.
Wherever he slots, you can bet that this version of Seranthony is a boost to the Phillies’ bullpen. Obviously, he will be eased in coming back from Tommy John, but he will be a big weapon for Girardi to deploy late in games.
Dominguez, paired with all the other additions, gives the bullpen a chance to be much better this season. Granted, not much is needed for them to be better.
All they need to do is limit the amount of runs they give up. We all know the offense won’t have troubles scoring them.
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